Amanda & Merrill

Dan Barber's Braised Short Ribs

January 14, 2011

Dan Barber's Braised Short Ribs

- Amanda

One evening, not long after I was married, my husband Tad and I hosted a dinner party at our apartment. I pulled one of my usual tricks back then, which was to cook five entirely new dishes rather than hedge my bets with a few known winners. This approach to a dinner party has guaranteed results, but not of the sort you wish for. You end up flubbing at least 40% of the menu. You sit with a furrowed brow throughout the meal. You nearly end your marriage before the guests arrive. And if you do this repeatedly, you are sure to live a shorter life.

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This time, on top of my novelty menu “strategy,” I layered another fatal tactic: I invited a chef to the dinner. Dan Barber, an owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, wrote for me at the Times, and since I knew that chefs’ biggest complaint was that no one ever cooked for them, I thought it would be a good idea to have him over for a dinner party.

The day of the party, I thought I’d “wing” making short ribs, which I’d never cooked before. For reasons I will never understand, I floured the short ribs before browning them, which later created a horridly gooey coating once they were braising. I also failed to add enough liquid to the braising pan and did not allow enough time for the meat to get tender.

By the time the guests arrived, I looked like a nervous and harried rabbit, dashing around my kitchen, awaiting the next disaster. Unsure if dinner would ever be ready, I pulled Dan aside and confessed.

Dan hopped into the kitchen, waved his skilled hand over the short ribs -- at least, that’s how I remember it -- and managed to make them edible.

A few weeks later, I asked him if he’d teach me how to properly braise a short rib. I spent a morning with him in Blue Hill’s kitchen on Washington Place.

Now I know how to braise. But I’m not sure Dan will ever come to one of my parties again.

Dan Barber’s Braised Short Ribs

Serves 4 to 6

  • 5 pounds beef short ribs, bone on
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper (I like a coarse grind)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, skin left on
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate (comes in a jar; slightly thicker than ketchup) or paste (comes in a block)
  • 2 fresh (or dry) bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup Madeira
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken broth


1. Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the oil, then the short ribs (add them in batches, if necessary) and brown on all sides. Transfer the ribs to a plate as they finish browning. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat.

2. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are soft and all the browned bits in the base of the pot have been loosened. Put the short ribs (and any juices that have collected on the plate) back in the pot.

3. Add the light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, tamarind paste, and bay leaves. Pour in the Madeira and red wine. Add enough chicken broth to just cover the ribs. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven.

4. Braise the shortribs until they are very tender when pierced with a fork, about 4 hours (longer if the short ribs are big). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shortribs to a plate. Let the cooking liquid settle; spoon off as much fat as possible (ideally, you'd do this over the course of two days and would, at this point, put the liquid in the fridge overnight and peel off the layer of fat in the morning). Set the pot on the stove over medium high heat. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce to a syrupy consistency.

5. Lay a short rib or two in each of 4 wide shallow bowls. Spoon over a little sauce. Serve proudly.

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Ann February 27, 2019
If you have been looking for an easy, fabulous recipe for short ribs, you’ve arrived. I didn’t change a thing in the ingredient list and won’t the next time around either. The sauce is absolutely delicious. And the mashed potatoes I served alongside were even better with a bit of sauce spooned on top. Easy enough to make during the week—I agree the 2-day method is best—but definitely guest-worthy, too.
Nancy L. April 28, 2017
Made these for a group of 11 friends and delivered to my co-hostess of the group since I couldn't make the event at the last minute. I had made additional so hubby and I could enjoy at home. The group loved them and so did he but I've yet to try. Everyone said, "Best EVER!" and all have asked for the recipe. At hubby's request, I'm making again tomorrow and will finally get to see why all the kudos.
Jennifer O. December 23, 2015
Does this recipe work well with boneless short ribs? If you are going with boneless ribs, how many pounds of meat do you suggest to make the recipe for 6 servings? Thanks!
BonPierce December 23, 2015
The bone adds so much to the flavor. Slow simmered meat with the bone? Divine. After they are cooked, the bone usually falls off as you try to plate it anyway. It is seriously that tender. You are left with a pot of bones and the most delicious sauce.
pat June 30, 2015
That's just I did - copied & emailed it to myself. Thanks.
pat June 30, 2015
Why don't you have a way that you can print the recipe?
BonPierce June 30, 2015
This is how I save all of my interweb recipes. I copy and paste them to an email addressed to myself. Then you can print away.
BonPierce January 6, 2015
Dry. You want one that says "Dry".
FCF January 4, 2015
A question about the Medeira you used -- was it a sweet variety of a dry one?
BonPierce November 9, 2012
ChickenX2~ Together. Then I slowly warm the whole pot up on the stove together.
Next I remove the meat to a plate and do the old trick of thickening the sauce with cornstarch and water. I like it to be more "gravy" like. Plate the meat and gravy boat the sauce.
chickenX2 November 9, 2012
Thanks -- I like the slurry idea -- the sauce is more of a jus at this point, and I want some gravy!
chickenX2 November 9, 2012
When you make these in advance, do you keep the meat and sauce separate in the fridge, or keep them together? I've already defatted with a fat separator....Thanks!
Amanda H. November 9, 2012
I keep them together.
MrsWheelbarrow August 27, 2011
With Hurricane Irene approaching, I looked in my freezer and the only thing that would break my heart should power go out were two packages of gorgeous short ribs. This recipe was a wonderful way to use them, and so hands off, I was able to do all my other hurricane prep while they braised away. Now, tummies full of this satisfying dish, we're ready to face the storm. Thanks, Amanda!
Amanda H. August 27, 2011
Thank you -- love hurricane-tested recipes!
BonPierce February 14, 2011
Made these first time for company. I like to live on the edge too.

They were fantastic! Didn't change a thing except that I couldn't get the ribs as one piece. I got the bone in short ribs at the market. Worked great! Might make them again this weekend. So good!!!
phyllis February 2, 2011
I cooked this recipe last Thursday for dinner Saturday night. It was delicious; the whole family loved it. After I degreased, I reheated by bringing the liquid to a boil, added the short ribs, and then put the pot in the oven at 275. Once reheated, I took out short ribs, kept them warm, and boiled down the sauce. The sauce was a little bitter from the tamarind, so I added a little more brown sugar. Wonderful meal.
Amanda H. February 2, 2011
Thanks for the follow-up!
HeatherM January 25, 2011
Can't find this in the recipe section to bookmark! Please add. :)
Amanda H. January 26, 2011
Here's the link!
midnitechef January 21, 2011
When the in-laws come visit I always start getting creative in the kitchen. Unless it's baked goods I do it all blind, no recipes, just by feel and smell. They are always facinated at the combinations I come up with, I need to record myself next time just to remember what I did right!
Short ribs sound like a great idea, especially in winter.
johnandrewwalsh January 18, 2011
Awesome story. The tamarind is such a great idea too!
Hey, can you answer an idiot question? If you go the two-day route, and reheat the sauce after peeling off the congealed fat, how do you reheat the short ribs? In the sauce on the stove top? Or wrapped in foil in a slow oven? Thanks!
phyllis January 18, 2011
I do the 2-day route almost each time I braise. I reheat the meat in the liquid. I degrease and bring the liquid to a simmer, and then add the meat.
Amanda H. January 18, 2011
I like the 2-day method as well. Reheating in the oven, with the meat in its liquid and the dish covered, works best.
johnandrewwalsh January 18, 2011
So, just the little bit of liquid that was with the meat in the fridge? Or some from the Dutch oven? Or can I put the meat in the Dutch oven and reheat the whole thing in the oven at 225? I'm frustratingly dense, I know. Thanks for your help, both of you!
Amanda H. January 18, 2011
Sorry, glad you asked that. I wouldn't reduce the sauce until the next day. So braise one day. Refrigerate. Spoon off and discard the fat. Reheat, covered in a low (225 degree) oven. Remove the short ribs to a plate, then boil down the cooking liquid to a sauce.
phyllis January 19, 2011
Amanda's instructions are right on. Sometimes I do day 2 on the stovetop. All of the same instructions. Put the short ribs in pot with braising liquid, simmer, remove meat, and reduce sauce. I have a really good stove and can control the burner heat. If you don't have good control, use the oven method. Enjoy.
johnandrewwalsh January 21, 2011
On behalf of myself and my friends who soon will enjoy this meal, thank you for your answers!
mariaraynal January 18, 2011
Grand story. Totally funny and shows courage and character to boot!
Amanda H. January 21, 2011
Thanks, Maria -- Dan was very kind!
FeastontheCheap January 18, 2011
It's somehow so reassuring to read that even the most masterful kitchen whizzes suffer through their fair share of failures... These look terrific - and I'm sure your "flub" was better than most!
Chef T. January 17, 2011
Amanda H. January 21, 2011
AmyMtl January 17, 2011
I recently made the Dijon and Cognac beef stew from Amanda's new book and it had me flour the meat and then brown it. Okay for stew, not for ribs? I was afraid that the bits on the bottom were heading towards burnt rather than brown, but the sauce was think and lovely in the end.
Amanda H. January 17, 2011
Great question -- it used to be a common technique with stews, for thickening the sauce. With braises I like a cleaner reduced sauce, so flouring the meat is unnecessary.
phyllis January 17, 2011
I agree with amanda. I always flour and brown for stew. For short ribs, it depends on the delicacy of the sauce. I make one with citrus, and I don't flour and brown for that recipe.
AmyMtl January 17, 2011
Thanks! Good to know. We LOVED the stew, btw.
Amanda H. January 17, 2011
Oh good -- I love that recipe, too!
BiCoastalCook January 17, 2011
The late lamented Laurie Colwin, in her wonderful book "Home Cooking," writes about dinner disasters in the essay "Repulsive Dinners: A Memoir." This is required reading for anyone recovering from near-terminal dinner party embarrassments. Come to think of it, anything that Colwin wrote would do the trick, whether it's her fiction or her culinary essays (there's a second volume called "More Home Cooking").
Amanda H. January 17, 2011
I had forgotten about that chapter -- will go home and reread it tonight. Thank you.